In my first non-fiction book, The Wandering Who, I defined a peculiar but common, mental condition. I argued that while most people are familiar with the notion of Post Traumatic Stress Disorder (Post TSD) – a stressful condition caused by a real or imaginary past event, it seemed to me that many self identified Jews often manifest symptoms of stress which I defined as Pre Traumatic Stress Disorder (Pre TSD). In the case of Pre TSD a human subject is tormented by the phantasy of an imaginary catastrophic event in the future. This destructive fantasy evolves into trauma that may manifest in emotionally driven irrational conduct. Pre TSD often operates as a ‘self-fulfilling prophecy’- the condition in which ‘prediction’ becomes reality simply because the person who believes it adopts certain behavioral patterns that result in the fulfilment of his belief.
In ‘The Wandering Who’ I argued that many disasters in Jewish history were the direct outcome of Pre TSD. It is for instance, easy to point out that the ‘fear of anti-Semitism’ and the suppressive actions that are pushed by Jewish institutions often lead to a sharp rise in antagonism towards different aspects of Jewish politics, culture, ideology and history. Similarly, the Jewish State’s phantasmic fear of Iran’s nuclear armament that is followed by endless Israeli attacks on Iranian interests in the region deliver a clear message to Iran and every other nation in the region that a failure to possess a substantial arsenal of WMD as a means of the deterrence is, all but a suicidal act. In reality, Iran’s advanced missile technology (both precision and ballistic) is a direct outcome of Israeli Pre TSD. It is the Israeli Pre TSD that made Iran into a regional superpower that endangers Israel (i.e. self-fulfilling prophecy’).
But Israel is not alone. By the time we landed on Covid 19, Pre TSD was no longer a ‘Jewish symptom.’ Pre TSD had become a universal global condition.
Religion of Fear
Fear and fearfulness of one’s deity, is at the heart Judaic existence. ‘Fearful Jew’ (Yehudi Hared, חרד יהודי) is how the Hebrew language refers to an orthodox Jew. Anxiety is at the root of the Judaic thought. The Hebraic expression attributed to a pious Jew is ‘heaven dreading man’ (Ish Yare Shamayim, מייםש ירא איש ). The idea that a good Jew is a trembled Jew is expressed in its clearest form in Proverbs 28:14 “Blessed is the one who always trembles before God.” Rashi (Rabbi Shlomo Yitzchaki 1040 – 1105), acclaimed for his ability to present the basic meaning of Biblical text in a concise and lucid fashion summarizes the proverb as follows: “Always (be) afraid – worry about punishment , thus moving away from transgression.”
Why do the Jews dread their God? Is it because the God of the Old Testament can easily outdo Quentin Tarantino’s most barbaric scenes? Is it because they know that the God of the Ten Plagues of Egypt wouldn’t stand a chance in The Hague? Is it because they know that their deity character is a jealous God (“For thou shalt worship no other god: for the Lord, whose name is Jealous, is a jealous God”: Exodus 34:14)? Agnostic critics of Judaic thought may even push it further and wonder why the Jews bothered to invent such a jealous God. But it can hardly be denied that the Jews and their not so merciful deity have managed to survive for three millennia while other sophisticated and superior civilizations have, one after another, disappeared into oblivion. Surely, in terms of its survival strategy, Judaism as a precept has managed to prevail and sustain itself against all odds.
The Athens vs. Jerusalem dialectical battle serves to untangle the meaning of the current apocalyptic era and throw light on the above. In Western cultural ethos, Athens stands for the city of philosophy, the birthplace of science, the poetic and tragedy. Jerusalem is the city of revelation. The birthplace of legalism (Halacha, Mitzvoth) and strict obedience. Athens teaches you how to think for yourself. Jerusalem tells us what to say and what never to think about. Before I continue I would like to reiterate that the philosophical context in which I discuss Jerusalem and Athens does not point at a split between ‘Jews and gentiles’ as Christianity and Islam are also suffused with legalistic Jerusalemite elements. Jerusalem vs. Athens is a dialectic battle between two forms of cognition that historically often do not agree with each other. We are at the midst of such a dramatic point in history.
Like the orthodox Jew who is in constant dread of his own God, the rest of us are expected to be mobilized by different narratives of colossal universal catastrophes, be it ‘Islamism,’ global warming or Covid19. Our status in society, as in the proverb (verse 28:14) is defined by the amount of fearfulness we are willing to manifest. The facemask has become our universal ‘skullcap.’ It is a symbolic identifier of our adherence to the current politics of ‘Corona menace.’ The orthodox Germophobes cover their bodies with the latest chemical warfare gear, they wash their hands with the most advanced alcogel every two minutes, they may reach libidinal climax by the act of mitigation. Ordinary believers are slightly more relaxed. They cover their faces with light paper masks. The Atheists, the Athenians, the Agnostics and the Pagans also wear facemasks, as they are ordered to do by law, but often stick their noses out either as an act of protest or just to enjoy the rare sensation of fresh air.
We observe that those who express any doubts about the official 9/11 narrative, global warming hysteria or Covid 19 are quickly labelled by the media as ‘rightwing,’ ‘Nazis,’ Conspiracy Theorists and antisemites. And we should know why: those who question the current apocalyptic religions interfere with our ‘new monotheistic Jerusalemite order’ — they think for themselves. They are Athenian or even ‘worse,’ a bunch of Pagans.
Leibowitz has told us all we need to know about Covid 19 and the other apocalyptic Jerusalemite faiths that have too often imposed themselves on us. Questioning global warming, doubting 911, refusing to see Islam as a global menace and doubting, literally, anything they tell us about Covid19 will get you labeled as ‘rightwing,’ ‘Neonazi’ and an ‘anti-Semite’ because these discourses are structurally set as Jerusalemite apparatuses. As in Leibowitz’s reading of Judaism’s ethos, ‘Emancipation from the bondage of Covid 19 can only be brought about by the religion of Lockdown and Mitigation.’ We are dealing with a perception that is sustained by strict observance as opposed to a search for logos. It demands the performance of blind ‘beliefs’ that are sustained by practice and are defined by defiance of reason and curiosity. In these new global Jerusalemite apocalyptic religions, thought police algorithms set by media companies replace the traditional orthodox rabbinical vetting of that which we are allowed to say and that which we are not even entitled to think for ourselves.Apocalypse Now!